Did you know that white lions also occur in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve?
Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp guests have already seen a white lioness on game drives, and Courteney and Cecilia (owners) have seen her few times when driving out the reserve late night. There are currently two white lion prides that traverse over the Timbavati and Klaserie. The Timbavati pride (Xakubasa pride) currently consists of 2 tawny adult females, a sub-adult tawny male and the 2 sub-adult while lionesses. There are no pride males and this is more than likely the reason these lions are seen in the northern Klaserie.
The white lioness that we sometimes see is part of the Giraffe pride. We normally see her when the pride pushes in to the Gomo Gomo area of our travserse. From what we can tell the Giraffe pride consists of 15 individuals. Approximately 4 adult females and 11 sub-adults made up of both males and females, one of them being the white lioness.
Please note that white lions are one of the rarest sightings, and there is zero guarantee that you will see this pride when visiting either of our camps. This post is merely to indicate that it is a special time to visit the Klaserie or Timbavati as white lions in the wild seldom make it through to sub-adulthood.
White lions are not yet a separate subspecies and they have been said to be indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa for centuries. However because of no pride males, they wander far and wide across the Timbavati trying to avoid contact with other lion prides. Because there are no fences between the Timbavati and Klaserie the lions can (and do) cross the borders of the reserves. One of the benefits of dropping fences all those years ago!
White lions are not albino lions. Instead, the white color is caused by a recessive gene known as chinchilla or color inhibitor. They vary from blonde through to near white. This coloration, however, does not disadvanatge them in any way. They have pigment visible in the eyes (which may be the normal hazel or golden color, blue-gray, or green-gray), paw pads and lips. Blue-eyed white lions exist and may be selectively bred. The leucistic trait is due to the chinchilla mutation that inhibits the deposition of pigment along the hair shaft, restricting it to the tips. The less pigment there is along the hair shaft, the paler the lion. As a result “white” lions range from blonde through to near white. The males have pale manes and tail tips instead of the usual dark tawny or black. The Latin name of Panthera leo krugeri is not limited to white lions. It applies to all South African lion subspecies; the prides of which are mostly located in Kruger National Park and nearby game reserves. White specimens usually have a yellowish-brown or golden eye color which is very similar to their tawny cousins, though some have bluish coloring like the white tiger.
To read more about the pride dynamics of this white lion pride, there is a great Blog post on the Motswari Private Game Reserve Blog here: